Welcome to Heard’s Visual Arts gallery. In these posts you’ll find images of our client’s original art. Enjoy!

Each artist whose likeness and/or work is posted on our site has signed a Heard media release or verbally given permission for their likeness and/or the artistic work they created to be posted on this site and shared via our social media platforms.

Puppet Masters

July 12, 2023: With just two days’ notice, Sharmila Karamchandani led the most amazing visual arts class with the alumni of Together We Bake (haven’t tried their chocolate chip cookies yet? They are amazing). Sharmila said she asked the women to “… create puppets of a person who had the most positive influence on them. There was some very interesting sharing and there were so many lessons hidden in what people shared. I am so humbled with the trust all the participants had and openly shared some very personal stuff. So grateful for today’s experience.” Here’s four of the new puppets below, and the heartwarming stories that accompanies them:

“She made a puppet of her daughter who has immense compassion. Her daughter pushes her to be a better person and is constantly focused on helping everyone. Even strangers. Some personal stories were shared and we were all in tears with so much compassion shown by a 12-year-old.”






“She made a puppet of her 7-year-old and told us how her young daughter is truly her sunshine. Her daughter and her profound comments encourage her every single day and makes her feel like she is a rockstar. Her story and the details about certain events left us speechless as to how this young child is such a blessing in her life.”






“She made a puppet of her mom. Her mom was an eccentric person. She is gone but our artist feels her presence. She shared how her mom was always saving all the animals. She was taking care of a wolf and a wolf puppy and they had all sorts of rescued animals at home. Growing up she found these things weird but now she appreciates these aspects of her mom.”

Who is Renting your Head Space?

May 25, 2023: When Together We Bake requested an art class with Sharmila Karamchandani, we knew we’d have a winner! Sharmila’s art projects are always equal parts fun, insightful, and inspiring, and it has been several years since she had done a Heard project with them. And, it was even more magical that we had dared to hope!

Leading with the prompt “Who is renting your headspace?” Sharmila asked the 20 participants to think about the negative voices and positive voices inside our heads. How do we know if it is our voice, a cultural voice, a parental voice or the voice of peer pressure? How do we know what’s ours and what has been imposed on us?

Sharmila shared later (edited): “What an amazing expressive art session we had this morning!! [T]he participants dived deeper into their headspace and whatever no longer serves them good they were supposed to do a scan and throw all the bad renters out to make room for the good renters.

I applaud this group for their honesty, vulnerability and bravery when they shared what they had drawn. There were lot of triggers, a lot of tears were shed, some found that they were not alone who were facing similar trauma. There were some very personal stuff discussed. What I loved was the group was so nurturing and loving to each other. They really build each other up.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 12, 2023:  If you don’t follow our visual artist Sharmila Karamchandani on Facebook, you should! Aside from being a generous, beautiful human being, she writes the best Facebook posts about her work with us! They are so insightful and detailed that we admit to cut/pasting/minor-edit them here. Her Mother’s Day project with the Casa Chirilagua kids, done over the last two Fridays, was no exception and one of the sweetest posts out there:

“A very happy Mother’s Day to all mother angels around us. Our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, teachers and friends who mother us. We made special wall art to honor our mothers. Kids created wall art with angels drawn on them to give to their moms. To begin with I showed them inspiration of two angels gifted to me by my sweet angel sister Marga Fripp who makes these wonderful angels. The kids were excited to see the collaged and painted angels made by her and made their own versions. Last but not the least endless gratitude and ever flowing love to my sweet Angel mom Anjana Khushlani.” A few of the 20+ super cute pics of the kids and their angel cards (the last one is for his departed doggie):

Robot Helpers for Household Chores

April 28, 2023, Casa Chirilagua: Given a chance what kind of a robot would you want to help out with household chores?

Always weaving kindness, generosity, and even history into her art projects, Sharmila asked her 1st – 3rd graders to create a helper robot for someone in their family. They couldn’t make it for themselves. They had to think of someone else first. Since so many kids wanted to make a robot for themselves, Sharmila told them the first robot will have to be for someone else (mom, dad, grandma or some one in their family) and they could create a second robot for themselves if they had time. Here’s a few of the “helperbots” the kids came up with. Aren’t they just cute? And don’t you want want one to do the dishes?
1. (left) Her robot is for her baby brother so he could hug him and care for him when she is at school.
2. (center) He made a robot who resembles his dog who passed away. This robot, “Doj,” guards the house.
3. (right) Her robot does all the laundry and gives big hugs to her mom

Gratitude Amid Chaos

April 25, 2023, Arlington County Detention Facility (ACDF): Our art teacher Sharmila Karamchandani ran into some unplanned chaos today and yet she and the women in the general population of the ACDF still found plenty to be grateful for. Here’s a shortened version of Sharmila’s story:

In the middle of chaos can you still find some gratitude? Before we started the workshop there was an incident with one of the inmates and we got delayed in starting our workshop which, to begin with, we had very little time for art. Now in a matter of 40 minutes, I had to explain the project, hear what they had to say, and also it was the last day with this unit I also had to get their evaluations for the program.
The project I had prepared was for them to make a gratitude tree. Most of them were still anxious and a bit shaken up by the incident and one of them was unable to draw at first as they were still trembling and here I go telling them to be grateful. Trust me, I too wouldn’t be able to pull out much if I was in their shoes. But these ladies are super resilient, they took all the instructions in and finished the project, shared with a loving heart as if nothing had happened just half an hour ago, and found so many things to be grateful for.
I ask them how they felt after the project. One of them who previously was anxious and unable to draw, genuinely thanked me saying “Thank you your project really helped me calm down and I no longer feel any anxiety”. And that’s the power of Art!!

Super Superpowers!

April 18, 2023: We’re just happy to be back at the Arlington County Detention Facility after three years of virtual – or no – classes! We knew Sharmila and her gentle art would be the perfect way to segue in with the general population. She wrote that she “…tasked [them] to create an entity that had special powers that was much needed in our world today…I am always amazed at what people create for this particular project. It’s so thoughtful…We had some very interesting conversations.

Quiz: Match the description with the superpower:

  1. Healing fly, a butterfly who senses any suffering and ailments with her special antennas anywhere in the world and can heal the person of any ailments they may have.
  2. Mother Earth, our ultimate super hero. With her powers of endurance and creation the woman needs to be honored as she is the source of all that exists.
  3. Blossom, who makes flowers and people blossom and bloom with her special powers.
  4. Guppy, who loves to give group hugs. She likes peace, harmony and love to spread with her special hugs.
  5. Food Man, who feeds the hungry and the homeless. His never ending faucet will provide you with any liquids be it juices or sodas. His side kick furnace can whip up any dish from any country for any amount of people.
  6. Rainbot, who has shower powers. She can do her special robotic rain dance and make it rain wherever and whenever needed, and can bless you with prosthetic limbs if you don’t have them (the creator’s friend lost a limb because of diabetes, hence Rainbot).

Cherry Blossoms and Dots

April 14, 2023: Our art teacher Sharmila Karamchandani summarized her Fun Friday at Casa Chirilagua so perfectly:

Today at our Heard Fun Friday at Casa Chirilagua, kids from 1st to 3rd grades learned about dot painting and pointillism technique. We made cherry blossom trees and talked about their short-lived life. Then I asked the kids what were some of their experiences that were short-lived and yet they truly felt lot of joy and happiness with that experience.

Many tiny hands went up in the air. I was so surprised they were holding so much in their little hearts. A lot of them talked about their grandparents ( mainly grandmothers) who are no longer alive(almost half the class wanted to talk about them), one kid misses a baby bunny who he saw in his backyard but doesn’t know what happened to it, one of the volunteer shared how she had fishes and because of not knowing what was the right water to put them in, she accidentally put them in the wrong water and they died in two days. Some of them missed their pets who have died.

All of this happened so fast in about 45 minutes, we learned about a technique, some of them needed help with making their tree trunks, we spoke about difficult experiences and then cleaned up as most of them had white and pink paints on their body. They were all covered with paint. It could qualify as an immersive experience. 😂.

Phew!! Each time I leave the workshop my heart is so filled with gratitude to experience and witness these young kids. ❤️ Fridays are fun indeed!!

Art for the Holidays at Carpenter’s Shelter

March 27, 2023: We admit, rather sheepishly, that we’ve gotten a little behind in our online postings. How else could we excuse NOT posting these fabulous art projects that our art teacher (and paper art fanatic) Alison McHugh brought to the Carpenter’s Shelter? Not just once, mind you, but twice! And each time Alison cleverly wove in a holiday theme into the work. To wit:

It’s the new year (well it was…) and what better way to start off a new year than to create your very own word to get you through 2023? Admit it – you’re motivated just by reading what our clients created!

And then it was St. Patrick’s Day! You can’t let that slip by without a tribute, can you? How about a rainbow (get it?) scrapbook with a memory-themed quote on the front cover. Cute, isn’t it? And created by a sentimental 12-year-old. And she wasn’t the only one having fun. Alison told us, “That was the MOST fun I’ve had at the Carpenters Shelter!! [Her mother said], ‘We might not be here next month, but I’ll definitely bring her back for your class.’  She was as sweet as pie! The little boy LOVED trying to ‘drive me crazy’ (his words) and followed me out of the class, joking with me.”



Making History with Women’s History Month at Casa Chirilagua

March 3 and 10, 2023: It’s Women’s History (or Her-Story) Month, and we couldn’t wait to see what our creative visual arts teacher Sharmila Karamchandani would come up with for her Fun Fridays at Casa Chirilagua. And she went her usual waaaaaay above and beyond, as usual. These last two Fridays (she alternates weekly between grades 1-3 and 4-5), she challenged the kids to make stick puppets of women in their lives who had inspired them and they would like to honor. And the assortment they created! Some drew their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and cousins. Others drew their teachers, two drew Helen Keller, and we even got Columbian singer Karol G. Very Fun Fridays indeed!






First, second, and third graders proudly showing off their creations.        Helen Keller              Mom and grandma, who is visiting this weekend.

Karol G. and mom                                 Her sister, who really cares for her.      Mom, who cares for and plays with him, and makes amazing papusas.

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